Holiday Spirit


Holiday Spirit

We always loved the holidays, especially those huge family gatherings at our in-laws house with 30 or more guests and my mother-in-law flitting back and forth, making sure everyone had what they needed and felt at home. When my in-laws passed, our gatherings became smaller. Some of the sibs went to their in-laws instead of dividing the time between two families. Without my mother-in-law, we weren't inviting their neighbors and former colleagues, either. It seemed strange to have, maybe, 15 at the gathering.

My side of the family was different. For some years, everyone came back for Christmas Eve dinner but eventually, with all the sibs living in different states and our parents getting older, we had very small gatherings. My parents and brother were always invited in the gatherings my in-laws had but declined. So, we had our separate Thanksgiving dinner on another day, usually Friday or Saturday.

My husband and I are the elders for our family. We have realized this in many ways, especially since my parents have needed full-time care. We are the ones who are called when someone is sick. We were called when our niece's house was broken into. We are the go-to-for-advice-elders whenever we are needed. Being the elders, we've also realized that our favorite music isn't cool anymore, and I would never, ever think of buying clothes for our daughter unless I'm prepared for an awkwardly polite thank you and a request for the receipt. Baby boomers aren't used to this.

IMG1788Anyway, though I generally enjoy this honor and enjoy hosting the gatherings (can I channel my mother-in-law's energy?), I was tired this year and not looking forward to the work of cooking and cleaning for the group. So, the brilliant person I am thought we'd just have our side of the family join the great grands at their assisted living facility and eat in the dining room. Perfect! We're all together and no work.

Dad was worried about the cost. Knowing he would fret and fret about it, I finally told my brother I would just make dinner and bring it up there. We could ask to use some space in the dining room. Okay, besides the fact that NOT cooking was the whole point of going there, the next challenge was space. All the guest dining rooms had been reserved long ago. I finally gave up and told them just to come to our house.

Everyone who is here will be coming. My brother, who always comes to town, and all our kids and grandkids. Total: 12 people for dinner. I went into a frumpy panic (the kind you have when you're too tired and irritated to panic fully) for a couple of hours. Then my daughter and I made pumpkin pies from scratch.

Hallelujah! I'd forgotten how much homemade pies are a part of our holiday tradition. Now, I'm dancing around (okay, frumpy dancing) and getting the last minute things ready. The family will arrive in two hours.

Today I am thankful for my brother, who comes out when he can and when he does, takes Mom and Dad out shopping, brings them to the family gathering, and even took my mom to the storage unit so she can get her stuff (okay, mixed feelings about that one). I am grateful for family gatherings and holidays that seem to pop up when we least expect them. I'm even grateful to the chaotic mess that is our house the day after the holiday.

And oddly enough, I'm grateful we don't have a dishwasher. This means me and hubby get some good long quality time together.

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As I finished writing this blog post, I received news that a friend's son, also a former student from the school where I taught, had died last week of a heroin overdose. After spending yesterday feeling like my insides were tied in knots, waiting for the standoff in Colorado Springs to end - we live just an hour north - this was horrifying news. I also felt guilty as his mom had asked me to check in with him now and then. I did, but not as much as I should have. \r\nWe had a beautiful gathering and dinner tonight. Mom and Dad were in good moods and ate well. They enjoyed seeing the great grandchildren, even if they are a bit on the wild side. \r\nOur oldest son has an art exhibit at a local VFW with all proceeds going towards an arts program for veterans. Our friend's son was an Iraq war veteran who never got over that experience. I'm so proud of my son for doing this show. It has even more meaning for him now. He wasn't good friends with this young man, but he was very close to the young man's parents. \r\nSo, feeling satisfied with a nice evening that my parent's enjoyed (mom, too), proud of my kids and grandkids, and unbelievably sad tonight, both at the loss of a struggling young man and at the craziness of our world.